Furor over erroneous sexually explicit books, says LGBTQ lawyer and state House candidate


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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
[email protected]

Not all books with sexual content are inappropriate for minors, says a prominent LGBTQ ally in Wyoming.

Sara Burlingame, executive director of Wyoming Equality, a nonprofit group that advocates for LGBTQ rights, told the Cowboy State Daily that she was disappointed with the coverage of the publication of two disputed books in the library at Kelly Walsh High School. .

The books, “Gender Queer” and “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves”, are sexually graphic. They are also transgender, gender-expansive, and non-binary.

Sara Burlingame

Disputes Complaints

Burlingame, which is also a Democratic candidate for House District 44 in next month’s general election, was particularly disappointed by a Cowboy State Daily story featuring Thomas Hampson, a longtime investigator of child sex crimes in the ‘Illinois, who said sexually-oriented graphic books made children more vulnerable to sexual acts. against them.

“There’s just hard evidence that shows that when we give teens access to information, it not only helps them delay their sexual activity – that’s the effect it has – it doesn’t sexualize them,” Burlingame said. “Because they can articulate bodily autonomy and understand it, it helps them realize that they don’t need to become sexually active to be accepted and gain approval from the opposite or same sex.”

Burlingame referenced the work of Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, who has studied LGBTQ youth development and social issues for decades.

Ryan declined to comment on Cowboy State Daily.

Burlingame also referenced the work of Stephanie Brill, author and founder of Gender Spectrum, an organization that advocates for gender nonconforming youth.

Brill did not respond Friday morning to a request for comment.

In her books “The Transgender Teen” and “The Transgender Child,” Brill encourages parents to expose children to books that affirm and explore gender expansion, but she does not specifically advocate books featuring sexual acts, in these two volumes.

In details

Burlingame said the society’s mission should not be to ban or remove books based on one or two criteria – such as the depiction of sexual acts – but to take a nuanced look at the whole of the book and to discuss its merits and shortcomings, as a society.

She referenced a book in Wyoming libraries that is “ostensibly” for LGBTQ people, “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson.

“I think it has some really problematic messages in it,” Burlingame said. “But my answer is not to ban the book – it’s to encourage critical thinking. It’s to let anyone know… ‘Hey, I think they’re wrong about some things.’

“This Book is Gay” deals with many homosexual sexual practices and how to practice them. The book sparked debate among Campbell County residents last year due to its brief discussion of “scat,” or eating poo, and “rimming,” or anal/oral sex.

It is available at many public libraries in Wyoming, including the young adult or teen sections of the Fremont County Library of Lander; Laramie County Library (Cheyenne), Natrona County Public Library (Casper), Park County Library (Powell), Sublette County Library (Pinedale), and Teton County Library (Jackson) .

It is also found in the general sections of Gillette College Library and Western Wyoming Community College Hay Library. A newer version is available from the Campbell County Public Library (Gillette) and the young adult sections of the Albany County Bookmobile, according to the Wyoming Public Library Map Catalog.

“Just because I’m an (LGBTQ) advocate doesn’t mean I can’t criticize all posts,” Burlingame said.

She said she doesn’t see the same critical thinking in critics of sex books in public and school libraries.

Sex scenes or alternative lifestyles?

There’s a chasm between the arguments for and against the books in the Kelly Walsh High School library.

The majority of critics of the books objected to the “pornography” in the pages, saying that it is the sexually graphic images and words that are inappropriate for children and public spending, not the LGBTQ claims in the books.

Darcie Gudger, a Casper woman with a master’s degree in education, asked the Natrona County School Board Monday why “explicit content” is needed in textbooks “if it’s really about representation?”

“Why don’t we have stories of members of the LGBTQ community or other minority groups acting heroically (instead)?” she asked.

Defenders of the books, instead, fought to keep the books based on their message of affirmation, rather than their depictions of sex acts.

Burlingame said she believed the detractors were simply claiming pornography was the main problem.

“I see empty words, ‘Hey, it’s not really against young LGBTQ people,'” she said. “But when you hear the conversations they have off camera, it’s absolutely animosity towards LGBTQ youth.”

“These same people call us pedophiles, they call us groomers,” she said. “I find this hysteria around LGBTQ books – I find it really disappointing.”

A candidate for Casper City Council at Monday’s school board meeting called a substitute teacher a ‘pedophile’ and a ‘trainer’ because the teacher said ‘Gender Queer’ is not pornographic and the children should have access to the book while “discovering” themselves.


Burlingame has repeatedly said that society’s resistance to affirming LGBTQ children is inciting suicidal behavior among them. She said it was the “real crisis” plaguing young people in Wyoming.

“People have been really quiet about it. They’re letting transgender kids be scapegoats for Wyoming,” she said. “And where are the adults who defend them? Where are the leaders of the Legislative Assembly and city councils who say, “Hey, these are vulnerable children, stop picking on them? ” I do not see it. And I think that’s a shame.”


Nathan Winters, executive director of the Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming, disagrees with Burlingame’s assessment of the books debate.

He said people should look at all factors associated with transgender lifestyles and gender dysphoria to assess contributors to higher suicidality rates. But, Winters said, he wouldn’t buy the argument that keeping sex graphic books in schools helps kids or helps prevent suicide.

“It’s one thing to teach young people that other people shouldn’t touch them in certain ways,” Winters said. “But that doesn’t mean children are better off when exposed to pornography.”

Winters said schools generally don’t promote “pornographic material” to help young heterosexuals develop relationships, nor should they do so for gender-nonconforming children.

“When we talk about helping people be self-aware enough to know how to protect themselves, and what’s inappropriate for someone to do to them – and confuse that with the idea that they need to be exposed to pornography…that’s a false argument,” Winters said.


The National Library of Medicine reported in 2020 that 82% of transgender people have considered suicide and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among young transgender people. Suicide attempts among gender nonconforming adults are about nine times higher than the average for the US population.

Compounding factors, the study notes, include a lack of family, school, medical and societal support.

The same journal conducted a study in 2011, conducted in Sweden, which found an increased risk of suicide attempts and hospital psychiatric care for people who had sex reassignment operations. The researchers concluded that the surgery “mitigates” gender dysphoria but does not reduce the suicidal tendencies and depression associated with it.

Ryan T. Anderson, author of “When Harry Became Sally,” wrote that because the 2011 study was conducted in Sweden, a culture “most accepting of people who identify as transgender,” it demonstrates that the suicidality cannot be entirely attributed to “a hostile or sectarian society.

“It breaks our hearts when someone commits suicide because of this dysphoric feeling they have,” said Winters, who said schools and families should consider counseling options for children to adopt their gender. organic.

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